Before and After: A White Kitchen’s Colorful Redo Has a Must-See Bold Backsplash

published Sep 12, 2023
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One spot to add a bit of your own personal flair or style to a kitchen is the backsplash — just take a look at these creative backsplashes that prove it! The backsplash was a focus in homeowner Lily Olsson’s home, too. Lily and her husband, Oren, “always wanted a ‘fun’ kitchen,” she explains. 

Lily and Oren’s kitchen was built in 1925 and last updated in the 1980s, and it was showing. It had peeling formica countertops and was overall very monochromatic with a traditional style. 

“We weren’t the kind of couple that wanted to do anything traditional,” Lily says. “My husband and I are always in the kitchen, we both love to cook, and we wanted a creative energy in the room — to inspire us and energize us and our family.” Several changes zap some energy into the space.

The new layout makes smart use of natural light. 

The first thing Lily and Oren did was rearrange the layout in the space. They moved the sink, the stove, the fridge, the dishwasher, and elevated the eat-in table from table height to make a counter-height peninsula that can also double as counter prep space. 

“People tried to talk us out of doing the peninsula, but our kids sit at it everyday,” Lily says. “We chat and eat breakfast and have a great place for them to hang out while we are cooking.”

And many of the layout changes better embrace the natural light. Originally the fridge was where the stove is now, and it blocked a window, “which wasn’t nice,” Lily says. The location where the sink is now originally had a window that went below the countertop with a radiator below. “We wanted the kitchen sink to face the backyard rather than the neighbor’s driveway,” Lily explains. “It’s also just above the grill placed outside, which is helpful.” 

The couple also removed the radiator and installed radiant heat flooring.

Fresh cabinets make a statement in a non-boring neutral color.

The new cabinets that replaced the white ones add a pop of (subtle) color to match the energy the couple was after. The cabinets are from Diamond Cabinets; the dark teal-gray (Moonstone) base cabinets anchor the space  and the uppers are lighter and airier (Cloud), helping to maintain brightness in the room. 

A professional designer, Julia Epstein, was a key player in this kitchen remodel. She notes that the color choices were a big part of the redesign. “We decided to keep the smaller-sized kitchen neutral in terms of cabinetry and create a real wow effect with the backsplash tile,” Julia says. “The two-tone cabinets made the space modern yet soothing as they were shades of soft gray.”

This tile seriously wows.

As Lily mentioned above, she wanted the tile to be the showstopper in the space. She and Oren went with a porcelain hex tile, but each of the hexes is partly covered with a matte orange coating for a more abstract-but-still-geometric look. (You can find the tiles from Tilebar and arrange them however you please for your own bold look.)

“Will I always love orange and white tile in the kitchen? Who knows,” Lily says. “But I knew I didn’t want the all-white no-flavor, no-fun kitchen we all see on Pinterest. I wanted something with personality — something brave and welcoming.” 

Interior designer Julia’s best tiling advice for adding drama to a space is to run the tile to the ceiling and not stop it with artificial breaks. “This makes the space feel larger and more luxe,” she says. 

Finishing touches make the space feel luxe. 

Speaking of luxe, the brass hardware and pendant lighting are like jewelry for the space. The pendant lights are from Shades of Light and help complete the artsy take on a classic space.

“We are a family that is constantly cooking and making,” Lily says. “We wanted a space that was truly the creative heart of the home.” And they certainly got what they wanted! For more bold and fun kitchens, check out this kitschy yellow one or this glam purple one.